Why Are Online Reviews Important for My Business and SEO?

Positive online reviews are a great way to attract more clients and customers. There’s nothing like a glowing firsthand report to convince someone that they want to work with you too! By reading about someone else’s experience, a potential client can more easily determine if you might be a good fit for their needs. Online reviews are also important for SEO.

According to a recent PEW Research poll, 82% of American adults say they sometimes read online customer ratings or reviews before purchasing items for the first time. 40% say they always or almost always do so. Additionally, a 2017 BrightLocal consumer survey data suggested that over 90% of consumers use reviews to evaluate local businesses, and 84% of those individuals trust reviews just as much as a personal recommendation.

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Online reviews give you higher visibility in Google searches

Did you know that, if you are a local business, online reviews can help your business rank higher in search engine results? Here’s why.

Although no one knows how Google’s algorithms work for sure, businesses with numerous reviews on their Google My Business page tend to be rewarded with higher placement for their Google My Business listing. Reviews are one of the easiest ways for Google to assess a business’s popularity and importance. If your customers leave reviews at a higher rate than your competitors’ customers do, your business will appear more popular and stands a good chance of outranking the competition. Reviews on your Google My Business page may also help your website come up higher in search engine results.

Google doesn’t just look at the number of reviews a business receives, it also considers what reviewers are saying. Let’s imagine that you are a dentist. If several reviewers mention that you accept emergency appointments, and a searcher is looking for a dentist nearby who offers emergency appointments, your Google My Business listing is more likely to come up in their search.

The same can be said of Yelp. Try typing in simply “dentist” for your local area versus “emergency dentist,” and you will get a totally different set of results.

How to get great reviews

There is no better way to get positive reviews than reaching out to happy customers right after they have worked with you, and asking them for a review. You can even email them a link to your Google My Business listing or Yelp page to make it easy for them. Also, there are numerous automated systems that assist with collecting reviews.

I recently took my car in to have it repaired, for instance, and my repair shop quickly sent me an email thanking me for my visit and included a link where I could leave a review. There are some review systems like Grade.us that will even proactively catch any unhappy customer reviews internally, so that you can determine what went wrong and take measures to remedy the situation, before an unhappy customer goes public.

Where to ask for reviews – these are my favorites

Google My Business – What I particularly love about Google reviews is that clients and customers need to use their full name. So, you as a business owner know who left the review, and you get an opportunity to respond to them publicly. From a visibility perspective, your reviews are front and center on your Google My Business page, so they can get a lot of attention in Google searches.

Yelp – No doubt about it, Yelp is one of the most popular review sites around. Once a review is written, other Yelp users get to vote on whether the review was helpful, funny or cool. As a business owner, you can contact the reviewer through Yelp, compliment them, respond to them online, or share your review on Facebook or Twitter. From a business visibility perspective, Yelp usually comes up high in search engine results whenever someone is looking for, say a physical therapist, window cleaner or landscaper in their local area.

Facebook – There are a lot of people spending time on Facebook, and many of them leave reviews for their favorite businesses. While viewers are reading your reviews, they can also browse your posts, photos and other information.

Industry specific sites – These are a great place to ask for reviews too, and just about every industry has one: Houzz for contractors, AVVO for attorneys, and Healthgrades for physicians.

What if you get a negative review?

We all dread that client or customer who may be unhappy with our work or product and decides to leave a one star review. If and when that happens, it’s important to, first of all, try and understand what went wrong. Send a private email to the reviewer and ask questions. Show them that you are concerned and want to do your best to rectify the situation. Then, try to solve the problem. If you can turn the customer around, ask them if they would kindly edit or remove their negative review.

I wish you much success in gathering those 5 star reviews!

If you or someone you know could use some concrete tips on how to get more business from their website, I offer a free 30-minute website review. Please contact me to set up a time at: 415-250-1347.

Carolyn Kohler is an SEO writer who specializes in helping businesses get found online. Her company is Website Wordsmith, and she is located in the San Francisco Bay Area